With the memory of the last NCC race I competed in still fresh, it was a jittery drive up to Shorewood, WI for the first of four races on the National Criterium Calendar that lead out the 11-day Tour of America’s Dairyland. Taking several preview laps around the bumpy course didn’t exactly calm my nerves, but somehow I felt very comfortable once the race started. The pace only became challenging in the final lap, and I was very glad to finish near the middle of the 70-woman start list.
Day two on a short and tight course in East Troy, WI began similarly. It was harder to move up and my legs weren’t as fresh, but I felt smooth in the turns and at ease in the middle of the largest field I’ve raced in to date. The pace seemed higher than the previous day though, and the near constant cornering eventually started to take its toll on my legs. I really struggled to hold position in the last third of the race, but still finished the race on the same lap as everyone else, just a bit behind the group.
Completing two NCC level races sent my energy way up, and I was excited about improving in the next two. As often happens in bike racing though, things don’t go like you think, and the weekend races were like two steps backward.
I started the Giro d’ Grafton in good position, but knocked bikes with someone middle of first lap. Everyone kept it upright, but I never recovered my focus. After a crash split the field several laps later, it was dangle city for a few laps, then an early ending for the group of five I had settled in with.
Poor staging put me behind (but at least not in) a crash in the very first turn at the Waukesha Carl Zach Cycling Classic. Needless to say, it was a very short race for me. On the positive side, I got to see what the front if the race actually looks like. Exergy, IScorp, Specialized Columbia, and Pepper Palace took substantial solo fliers and some primes. The teams with strong sprinters brought it all back and set up their women for final sprint.
Podium was Kimberly Wells (Fearless Femmes), LVG (Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers), and Sam Schneider (TIBCO) in 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, respectively. To learn what happened in the other races, you’ll have to check the official ToAD race reports, just like I did.